IT JUST GOT a little bit easier for Portland's community of designers to keep production of their work local and centralized. Queen Bee Creations, the line of accessories founded by Rebecca Pearcy back in 1996, has ceded their production factory into a new, independent entity called Spooltown, which is also equipped to accommodate outside clients. Headed up by former Queen Bee production manager Sara Tunstall, who owns and operates the small-run factory in the same building as Pearcy's design studio and shop, Spooltown specializes in products that play to the strengths and equipment necessary to execute Pearcy's own designs. That means difficult fabrics and heavy materials like leather (and faux leather) as well as lighter weight items like the scarves and totes Pearcy has begun making under the latest wing of her operation, Rebecca Pearcy Textiles.
Spooltown joins the Portland Garment Factory (PGF) as one of the few resources Portland designers have during the long, often permanent stage of growth between making every item themselves and meeting the minimums demanded by large-scale production factories. Prior to PGF's arrival just a few short years ago, this was largely solved by contracting with a variety of independently contracted sewers, which made inconsistency a frequent issue. Since its founding, PGF has expanded twice into increasingly larger spaces, produced its own in-house brand of womenswear (HouseLine), and has more clients than they can accommodate. In an industry of this size, the arrival of Spooltown is greeted with open arms rather than as competition. Says PGF founder Britt Howard, "We have contracted jobs to them, sent clients over there, and refer people to them. I think they do a great job and run a good, well-oiled machine over there. PGF gives them the wholehearted thumbs up and 'Let's do this!' High five!"
So far Spooltown's new clients include canvas-and-leather accessory line the Good Flock and Schoolhouse Electric's line of home goods. "I believe in Portland manufacturing and in creating more manufacturing infrastructure," says Tunstall. "Spooltown provides a middle ground for designers between solo production and big factory production, so we work to keep minimums low. That said, we're able to produce about 700 fairly complicated bags a week with the machinery we have today. [And] frankly, I love finding new machines, so that number keeps changing. And by 'changing,' I mean 'growing.'" Spooltown, 3961 N Williams, #101, spooltown.com
Meanwhile, in retail news, Mary Luczycki, former manager of the recently shuttered Local35 and more recently of its spin-off Machus, has announced her own impending, independent venture. With a projected opening of mid to late March, Communion will be taking over the SE Hawthorne storefront formerly occupied by Local35 (3556 SE Hawthorne). Luczycki plans a hefty remodel in the interim to distinguish Communion from its previous occupant, and plans to cater to men and women looking for clothing at a lower price point than many of the higher-end boutiques that have proliferated in past years. Stay tuned as more details become available.